In their podcast, Joe and Robert say that content marketing is not facing a crisis of confidence. They acknowledge that many marketers aren't sure that their content marketing efforts are effective, but they contend that most of the uncertainty exists because content marketing is still a relatively new practice. Joe and Robert also acknowledge that most marketers don't have confidence in their ability to measure the effectiveness of content marketing, but they argue that the measurement problem is not unique to content marketing.
I agree with Joe and Robert that there is no immediate crisis of confidence in content marketing. Research by CMI and others shows that most companies are increasing their commitment to content marketing, which indicates that most marketers believe that content marketing is effective and valuable. Moreover, some companies have been able to quantify the value of content marketing. For example, at the recent Content Marketing World conference, Julie Fleischer, the director of data, content, and media at Kraft Foods, said that Kraft now generates a four-times-better return on investment through content marketing than through advertising.
In general, however, marketers aren't confident in their ability to measure the business impact and value of content marketing. In a 2014 survey by Contently, only 9.4% of marketers said they are very confident in their ability to measure the business results of content marketing. During the podcast, Joe Pulizzi said that according to CMI research, about 20% of marketers say they can measure the effectiveness of content marketing.
Whether the right number is 9.4% or 20% or somewhere in between, the measurement problem is a significant issue even if it doesn't create an immediate crisis of confidence. As companies spend more and more on content marketing, CEO's and other senior business leaders will begin to demand more convincing evidence that their investments are producing measurable financial results. So, if we want to solidify and sustain the support for content marketing, we need to develop a credible approach for measuring its impact on strategic business objectives such as growing revenues, market share, and profits.
The good news is that the measurement challenge is receiving a considerable amount of attention, and there is an emerging body of knowledge about how to measure the performance of content marketing. For example:
- In A Field Guide to the Four Types of Content Marketing Metrics, Jay Baer presents a measurement framework that includes consumption metrics, sharing metrics, lead generation metrics, and sales metrics.
- In The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics, Curata offers a measurement framework that adds retention metrics, engagement metrics, production metrics and cost metrics to Jay Baer's framework.
- Another important resource is an e-book by Contently titled The New World of Content Measurement: Why Existing Metrics are Flawed (and How to Fix Them).
The measurement frameworks offered by Jay Baer, Curata, and Contently all contain many good ideas, and I agree with some of the specific metrics they suggest. However, I contend that most companies should not focus their measurement framework on content marketing per se. In an upcoming post, I'll explain why.